Feature Story



By Sam Turner - 

William Knight certainly isn’t the first International trainer at this year’s Carnival to lament the presence of the royal blue silks of Godolphin. Any number of handlers this season have been denied victory in the dying strides of a Meydan contest which appeared done and dusted; just ask Knight’s English counterpart Jamie Osborne or French trainers Georges Doleuze and Francis-Henri Graffard for example. Frustratingly, Knight can add his name to that growing list after the gallant Frost At Dawn was agonisingly overhauled by Great Truth in the dying strides of a thrilling Dubai Trophy at Meydan last Friday. For Newmarket-based Knight, the defeat was a bitter-sweet experience. Bitter because a filly having her fourth outing of an industrious Carnival was beaten in the shadows of the post; sweet because her performance over the 1200m, a new trip, was on a par with anything she has achieved in her sixrace career. The daughter of Frosted, a half-sister to the Ed and Simon Crisford trainee Kingari, has taken her form to a new level following a promising start to her career in the UK. A taking second on her Newcastle debut, she was surprisingly unfancied for her second start by the international markets but proved that lack of support unfounded with a snug win at Kempton. Those performances encouraged Knight, who is no stranger to targeting horses at the Middle East, to break new ground with his unexposed filly.

“We have always had a few runners out in Dubai, but this is the first time I have ever brought a three-year-old,” he revealed. “Frost At Dawn just looked the right type with the new Carnival offering good opportunities and she ran a lovely race first time out where she came up against a very nice horse of Fawzi’s (Manama Gold).

“The second run on the dirt was just a write off, all those that raced prominently just locked on and took each other on so you had to draw a line through that run. “I thought she ran a very good race on her third start behind two nice fillies of Charlie’s (Appleby) in Cinderella’s Dream and Beautiful Love and I’m obviously delighted with how she ran in the Dubai Trophy. “She jumped and travelled like a dream over the 1200m and, although she could go back up to 1400m, she displayed a lot of speed on Friday evening, and she should now be able to learn how to sprint. “Now she is proven at 1200m, that opens up plenty of opportunites and options, especially out here.

There is the race which Al Dasim won last year in four weeks’ time (Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Sprint) which is a possibility all being well.” Four runs in a little over six weeks demands a robust constitution and a strong mind and Knight is delighted with how Frost At Dawn has thrived since arriving in Dubai. “My worry before the Dubai Trophy was backing her up quickly, but she seems to be thriving. Putting the saddle on her before Friday’s race, she was so relaxed and chilled and has done very well physically for being out in Dubai,” added the master of Rathmoy Stables. “She is only maturing and getting better, and I’m thrilled with how she’s progressed in her time here.

” Knight has never been afraid of travelling his horses with the admirable Illustrious Blue, winner of the Group 2 Goodwood Cup, completing a wonderful career in the Melbourne Cup before taking up stud duties in Australia. Not many would make their debut at Folkestone and sign off at Flemington like Illustrious Blue, while his 61-race career also included two starts at Meydan and four at Nad Al Sheba, where he won a 2007 handicap with Paul Doe aboard. Fellow globetrotter Sir Busker has also visited Meydan four times, appearing in the last two renewals of the Dubai Turf behind the legendary Lord North.

And Knight readily admits he is open to bringing more horses to the revamped Carnival next year, with the new structure extremely appealing to international trainers. “Just looking at the races on offer, now that the Dubai Racing Club have opened up the programme a little more, there are more nice opportunities for horses,” he adds. “Beforehand, you were really limited where you could go, but now you can come out to Dubai with a lower rated horse and work your way up through the grades. “It is something we will look to do with the right horse.” With any luck, Frost At Dawn may just land that first big prize in the weeks of the season that remain, resisting the royal blue silks in the process.